Alabama Snow Event Difficult for Forecasters to Predict, School Officials to Prepare

Snow events in West Alabama are difficult for weather forecasters to really pinpoint and school officials having to decide whether to open their doors are left scratching their heads.

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Like many West Alabamians,  I awakened with great anticipation about the possibility of seeing yet another “snow event.” here in the land of the Crimson Tide.

Since I relocated here 10 years ago this month,  I have only seen snow on the ground here about three times.    I call them “snow events” because they usually are pretty, but very short-lived.

Almost four years ago in 2009, I wrote a post about the use of Twitter in a late winter snow event where I compared photos from 2008 to 2009.

The last time we had measurable snow in Tuscaloosa (2010),  I was in Jackson, Mississippi at a conference and experienced the snow even as I was driving to the Mississippi state capital.    About five inches of snow fell there and I’m told snow also accumulated here in Tuscaloosa.

Having lived in Cincinnati,  I have a hard time considering these events (that typically don’t require the use of a snow shovel) REAL SNOW.

Why Even Talk About IT?

Why waste my time blogging about something that hasn’t happened yet?
Well, how the winter weather coverage goes is worthy of news commentary.

For instance,   the news Web site, al.com  decided to use the headline “Winter storm warning as heavy snow expected to make its way to central Alabama starting 5 a.m. Thursday”

This tells it all– it’s 7 a.m. and not a flake of snow is reported in central Alabama.

WVUA-TV, which does not normally have a live morning news program, made a decision to air a live news program at 6 a.m.   But, when Lynn Brooks and Richard Scott hit air this morning, there was not much white stuff to show.

What’s  a web producer to do?     You can’t really predict the future.

Difficult Forecast, Changing Conditions

nwsgraphic2
Courtesy: National Weather Service

David Hartin with the Tuscaloosa Emergency Management agency told WVUA-TV Wednesday night newscasts how difficult it is to predict snow for West Alabama.     He talked about how 8 hours can make all the difference.

During the Wednesday evening newscasts, the national weather service upgraded their forecast for Tuscaloosa from a winter weather watch (conditions are favorable) to winter weather warning.

So, Tuscaloosa area officials decided not to make a decision until this morning.  It’s a good thing they did.   There’s no reason not to have school today.

But, if you live in Fayette County or Walker County, which made their calls last night, you are having a delayed school opening today.

Charles Daniel, now of WBMA ABC 33/40 explains this morning that the snow will be a “daytime event” for Central Alabama.

That’s the latest forecast from the broadcast meteorologists.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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